Canon L lens
||This article contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. (March 2009)|
An L lens is a line of SLR photography lenses made by Canon. L lenses are Canon's top-of-the-line lenses. Some say L stands for "Low Dispersion" - achieved by the UD lens elements found in these lenses. But, the true answer is probably the one in Canon's Lens Work III Book - "L" is for "Luxury". A reference to the lenses' high price and proclaimed build quality. The use of "ASPH" was common to notate aspherical elements throughout Canon's and other manufacturers' histories. Canon produces both L-series zoom and prime lenses for their obsolete FD lens mount and for their current EF lens mount used on all Canon EOS cameras (digital and film).
The lens on the Canon PowerShot Pro1 was designated L-series, and was the first fixed (non-interchangeable) lens so designated.
L-lenses can be recognized by a red ring around the front part of the lens. Most recent L lenses have sealing to help resist dust and water. L-lenses are typically used by professionals and serious amateurs due to their superior image quality and robust design.
Most L series lenses share a number of common characteristics:
- Tough build, made to withstand trials in the field (some incorporating dust and moisture resistant rubber seals).
- At least one fluorite or ultra-low dispersion glass element, combined with super-low dispersion glass and ground aspherical elements.
- Non-rotating front elements, which are optimal for some filters (e.g. circular polarizers).
- Relatively large apertures compared to other Canon lenses in the same focal lengths.
- Ring-type USM (ultrasonic motor) and full-time manual focusing.
- Three additional data communication pins on Canon Extender EF compatible lenses, compared to the standard EF mount.
There are some lenses which include one or more of these technologies but which are not designated L-lenses. L-lenses are often equipped with USM and/or IS, but optical performance is the key criterion.
Larger sized L-lenses, such as the 70–200 mm and 100–400 mm zooms and longer focal length primes (300 mm+), usually have an off-white barrel (sometimes referred to as the color "putty") to reduce heat absorption under the sun that may otherwise affect the performance of the lens, as well as to identify Canon's lenses (for example at sporting events). However, shorter focal length L-lenses can be black (such as the Canon EF 24–70 mm f/2.8L and all L-lens primes under 300 mm, with the exception of the discontinued 200 mm f/1.8L and current 200 mm f/2.0L IS). Therefore L-lenses can be identified by either a lens barrel's off-white colour or, as on all L-lenses, the distinctive red ring on the lens barrel.
Wide angle L-lenses typically have a gelatin filter holder on the mounting point of the lens, which allows the photographer to cut a small, square piece of gelatin out of a larger filter sheet and place it on the lens. On film cameras, these are typically used to correct the color temperature, but on digital cameras this is largely unnecessary, as the color temperature can be corrected in software. The mount is still commonly used for neutral density gelatin sheets though, especially on certain wide-angle lenses where the protruding front element precludes the use of any screw-in filters. Some telephoto L-lenses, such as the EF 70-200mm zoom lenses, or the EF 300mm f/4L IS USM do not have rear gelatin filter holders. Super-telephoto lenses such as the EF 500mm f/4L IS USM, or the EF 200mm f/2L IS USM do have a rear 52mm drop-in filter holder, than can be used to hold gelatin type filters.
The following is a list of EF mount L-lenses, including discontinued lenses.
- 8-15mm f/4L USM fisheye
- 16-35mm f/2.8L USM (Discontinued)
- 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
- 17-35mm f/2.8L USM (Discontinued)
- 17-40mm f/4.0L USM
- 20-35mm f/2.8L (Discontinued)
- 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (discontinued)
- 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
- 24-70mm f/4L IS USM
- 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM
- 28-70mm f/2.8L USM (discontinued)
- 28-80mm f/2.8-4.0L USM (discontinued)
- 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM
- 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6L USM (discontinued)
- 50-200mm f/3.5-4.5L (discontinued)
- 70-200mm f/4.0L USM
- 70-200mm f/4.0L IS USM
- 70-200mm f/2.8L USM
- 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (discontinued)
- 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
- 80-200mm f/2.8L (discontinued)
- 100-300mm f/5.6L (discontinued)
- 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
- 200-400mm f/4L IS USM 1.4x Extender (announced)
- 14mm f/2.8L USM (Discontinued)
- 14mm f/2.8L II USM
- 24mm f/1.4L USM (Discontinued)
- 24mm f/1.4L II USM
- 35mm f/1.4L USM
Standard & medium telephoto 
- 135mm f/2.0L USM
- 200mm f/1.8L USM (Discontinued)
- 200mm f/2.0L IS USM
- 200mm f/2.8L USM (Discontinued)
- 200mm f/2.8L II USM
- 300mm f/2.8L USM (Discontinued)
- 300mm f/2.8L IS USM (Discontinued)
- 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- 300mm f/4.0L USM (Discontinued)
- 300mm f/4.0L IS USM
Super telephoto 
- 400mm f/2.8L USM (discontinued)
- 400mm f/2.8L II USM (discontinued)
- 400mm f/2.8L IS USM (discontinued)
- 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- 400mm f/5.6L USM
- 500mm f/4.5L USM (discontinued)
- 500mm f/4.0L IS USM (discontinued)
- 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM
- 600mm f/4.0L USM (discontinued)
- 600mm f/4.0L IS USM (discontinued)
- 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM
- 800mm f/5.6L IS USM
- 1200mm f/5.6L USM (discontinued; was special order only)
Canon lens codes 
On the back of Canon lenses is a six-digit code, which indicates where the lens was manufactured and when.
Example of a code "UV1212"
The first letter 'U' represents the factory that made the lens. Three possible first letters are:
- U = Utsunomiya
- F = Fukushima
- O = Ōita
The second letter 'V' represent the year of manufacture
A = 1960, 1986, 2012 B = 1961, 1987, 2013 C = 1962, 1988 D = 1963, 1989 E = 1964, 1990 F = 1965, 1991 G = 1966, 1992 H = 1967, 1993 I = 1968, 1994 J = 1969, 1995 K = 1970, 1996 L = 1971, 1997 M = 1972, 1998 N = 1973, 1999 O = 1974, 2000 P = 1975, 2001 Q = 1976, 2002 R = 1977, 2003 S = 1978, 2004 T = 1979, 2005 U = 1980, 2006 V = 1981, 2007 W = 1982, 2008 X = 1983, 2009 Y = 1984, 2010 Z = 1985, 2011
The next two digits represent the month of the lens is manufactured.
The last two digits are for internal Canon use.
Therefore the example (pictured) of UV0512 means the lens was made in the Utsunomiya, Japan factory in May 2007.
See also 
- Canon EF Lens Work Book 2, page 15)
- At the-digital-picture.com:
- On Canon Website: